Time is priceless.
Time is something that was stolen from Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr., and Korey Wise in 1990, when they were convicted and sentenced to several years in prison for a crime none of the teenage boys committed. There was no physical evidence tying any of them to the crimes. The only physicality one could point to was the color of their skin. As When They See Us director Ava DuVernay wants the upcoming miniseries to ask— what does our society see when they see black boys?
The boys—who had become men at the time—were later exonerated after Matias Reyes confessed and a DNA corroborated said confession. They received a $41 million collective settlement from the city of New York in 2014.
But, as implied above, there’s no price tag on lost time.
“Even our conversations [are] different, it’s not normal. Our conversations will be about prison; how we had to survive in prison,” McCray said in a recent interview with CBS Sunday Morning.
“Go get your life back...take it back,” activist Elombre Brath (Omar J. Dorsey) tells an adult Raymond Santana (Freddy Miyares) in the second trailer of the upcoming four-part limited series, as a premiere for The Root. The second half of the series will focus on the men’s post-release lives and will document how each navigates their newfound freedom.
It’s a straightforward line that carries so much weight. When the American “justice” system stripped the childhoods of Antron, Kevin, Yusef, Raymond, and Korey, their lives were tragically altered forever. As the series will portray, each of the men attempted to reclaim their power in an unrecognizable world and regain the one thing that would carry them through the rest of their lives— hope.
All four parts of When They See Us will debut on Netflix, Friday, May 31.